Cameron Gray’s October 5 critique of the Historic Landmarks Commission’s decision against a bikeshare program in El Pueblo Viejo makes the decision seem petty and capricious, revolving solely around the color of bike docks. He is misinformed.
It is well known and easily learned that Santa Barbara’s El Pueblo Viejo remains the gem it is because there are standards for acceptable building materials, styles, lighting, signage, and yes, colors. Why would a company propose a colored dock known to be unacceptable to longstanding guidelines?
In February 2020 after City Council approval, staff reported to the Downtown Parking Committee, “locations for the docks will need to be identified, studied, and approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission.”
On September 16, project approval was denied by HLC on four grounds: (1) the stationary equipment’s modern style, as well as the black color, are inconsistent with established El Pueblo Viejo guidelines, (2) the style is not compatible with the distinctive architectural characteristics of the district, (3) the applicant did not provide a location map for the docks as required, (4) the applicant failed to provide enough information to determine if open space and landscaping requirements could be met.
Mr. Cameron claims the commission “fails to acknowledge the historic context of this collective moment.” The very reason Santa Barbarans today have an El Pueblo Viejo to enjoy (and profit from) is due to the protections — large and small — provided by continued HLC oversight for over 60 years’ worth of “moments.”
BCycle should have done the prior homework to learn the requirements for projects within El Pueblo Viejo. The company must (1) be flexible in the equipment clad color, (2) provide dock style options compatible with our Landmark District architecture, (3) consider dock locations off the sidewalks of State Street where COVID lockdown-induced foot traffic will be increased for the foreseeable future, (4) provide to the commission a proposed placement map for the 300-350 docks intended for the Viejo district, and (5) demonstrate their proposed dock locations will retain pedestrian open space and are amenable to landscape.
It’s not all about color.